The fine bookshelf audio system for most stereos

This post changed into carried out in partnership with The Wirecutter, a consumer’s guide to the quality technology. study the full article here.

To locate the quality bookshelf speakers in your stereo machine, we considered masses of fashions, narrowed the field to 19 finalists, after which had a three-person listening panel placed every via its paces with a wide style of song. After 90 hours of labor, the ELAC Debut B6 audio system came out as our pinnacle desire because they sound greater like a stay overall performance than anything on this rate range.

Who these are for
We brought in 19 pairs of bookshelf audio system for checking out.

Bookshelf audio system are first-rate for every person willing to tolerate a chunk extra complexity in setup to get better sound and better fee than other alternatives offer. as an example, Bluetooth audio system provide an clean way to pay attention to track however can’t produce a real stereo impact and use a compressed signal, however whole-domestic audio structures can come up with proper CD-first-class streaming but have a limited quantity of speaker options and often price extra.

Used with a receiver, bookshelf speakers allow you to pay attention for your audio assets in complete resolution, and due to the fact you could connect any tool on your receiver’s inputs, you are not restrained to CD resolution. even though wireless requirements will absolutely alternate lots over the subsequent decade, you may relaxation assured a pair of passive bookshelf speakers will never become antiquated or vain.

How we picked and examined
For trying out, we used a Sonos join (right) gambling TIDAL and lossless nearby files through an AURALiC VEGA DAC (top left). We also used an ATI AT6012 amplifier (middle) to energy more than one audio system and a custom active switcher (backside left) to switch between speaker pairs.

groups had been making bookshelf speakers for many years, and each yr loads of recent models arrive. checking out each speaker available on the market is not possible because of the number that exist. the first thing we did changed into slender the field down to 2 rate tiers: audio system priced at $125 a pair or less, and between $250 to $400 a pair. We then looked at all of the critiques we should locate (and accept as true with), plus consumer evaluations, to eliminate fashions that would have problems in actual-international use.

as soon as we decided on our finalists, we assembled them in a listening room for assessment. to properly compare the audio system with one another, we set them on 30-inch-tall shelves in order that the tweeters all stood as close to ear top (seated) as possible, located the shelves as a minimum one foot away from all partitions for sound-high-quality reasons, and borrowed an ATI AT6012 amplifier to power more than one speakers at a time (though all our picks will paintings with pretty a good deal all receivers).

We compared speakers in every rate variety face to face, the use of but many tracks it took to determine which one sounded quality. If the consequences in a unmarried listening spherical were too close for us to decide a winner, we circled other models in and came returned to those speakers later till we could make a desire.

Our pick out
With detail, soundstage, and bass reaction that would be stunning at any fee factor, the ELAC Debut B6 make a great stereo pair.

Out of the 18 audio system we tested, the ELAC Debut B6 received us over with brilliant element, first rate soundstaging, and tight bass. some of its competition exceeded the ELAC in certain elements, however amongst those priced under $400, not anything else we heard supplied the overall balance and overall performance of the ELAC Debut B6 for the same rate.

during our exams, in “simply the manner you are” from Diana Krall’s live in Paris, her vocals sounded more herbal through the ELAC pair than thru most of the opposition. It better distinguished small information such as the sound of her mouth opening and closing, and you get no peaked treble right here. It additionally gives music a great deal extra intensity and realism, thanks to its extensive and deep soundstage. essentially, you won’t get towards the sensation of a stay overall performance without spending plenty extra cash. those audio system sounded terrific no matter what we performed on them. The openings to “Teardrop” from big attack and The White Stripes’ “Seven state navy” display off the prolonged bass response the ELAC Debut B6 pair offers over the opposition.

With elective matching middle channel, tower, and Atmos modules, the ELAC audio system will paintings in each two-channel and multichannel systems. Plus, they’re versatile to set up; comfy binding posts cause them to smooth to put in with any type of speaker cable.

The (better-searching) runner-up
If the ELAC Debut B6 set is unavailable, the DALI Zensor 1 is a near runner-up. The sound excellent of this pair is honestly the same as the ELAC, and we couldn’t pick out one over the opposite in an instantaneous A-to-B assessment. they are additionally an awful lot extra compact and are available in an expansion of plenty nicer finishes than the ELAC pair. but, you’re paying 50 percentage extra for what amounts to cosmetic improvements.

An upgrade in sound nice
if you need to move for an upgrade, the KEF Q100 speakers price nearly two times the price of our foremost choose, but this pair become the clean favourite of our listening panel. We located the sound to be extra specified and clear than what we heard from the other speakers. just like the ELAC Debut B6, the Q100 set has an available matching center channel for domestic theater. It also comes in four one-of-a-kind finishes, and you may even pick large variations in case you want more bass.

excellent sound at a good buy rate
ultimately, the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR set is our budget select. those audio system have been a part of Andrew Jones’ closing collection at Pioneer and sounded better than any of the opposite underneath-$200 speakers we tried. however our listening panel stated they sounded much less certain as compared with audio system in the $three hundred+ variety. they’re proper for the money, however we propose you upgrade if you could have enough money to.

Getting the most out of your speakers
a super position for bookshelf speakers is on a couple of speaker stands.

even though they are called bookshelf audio system, do not put your speakers on an actual bookshelf—due to the fact maximum bookshelf audio system are rear-ported, a number of the bass fires out of the returned, and it might not sound as proper. A bookcase amplifies some of the bass and changes its tone.

as an alternative, try putting every speaker farther out into the open; placing it on top of a table or a stand eight to 12 inches from the wall will make a big development. strive to get the tweeters at roughly ear stage whilst you’re sitting, because this is the manner most audio system are designed to be used.

a perfect function for bookshelf speakers is on a pair of speaker stands. The stands will positioned the audio system at the ideal peak for most people while they’re seated—plus, they have carpet spikes to better anchor them to the ground.

it’s vital to observe that the front grill on a speaker is designed to keep the drivers safe from children and pets, but having it in location isn’t always as properly as leaving it off, soundwise. So if you do not have kids or pets round to damage the grill, do not feel you have to use it. For extra suggestions on how to get the most out of your speakers, take a look at out our complete evaluation here.